4. Sleep More… Within Reason
Granted, if you’re already getting your eight hours per night, then more sleep will likely not improve health, but keep it up because sleep deprivation can decrease insulin sensitivity. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) found a U-shaped relationship between sleep and insulin sensitivity: too little sleep is definitely bad, but too much is also hurtful. Be like Goldilocks and shoot for “just right.” The ADA recommends that 6.5 to 7.4 hours of sleep a night for the best blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity.
Need more motivation to snooze? Check out these 10 Ways Sleep Can Improve Life For People With Diabetes.
5. Reduce Stress
As if we needed another reason to reduce stress in our lives! Studies show that chronic stress is associated with insulin resistance, and cortisol, the “stress hormone,” impairs insulin action by impairing glucose uptake.
Just thinking about stress can be stressful, so try to take things in stride. No one is able to avoid all stress, but here are a few tips on how to reduce diabetes-related stress.
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6. Try some spices!
Sprinkling cinnamon in your coffee or turmeric over your rice is not going to cure diabetes, but it may help improve insulin sensitivity! But while we haven’t yet discovered a miracle spice, there is evidence that certain spices can have a positive effect on insulin sensitivity and blood sugar. Try these:
- Turmeric: While it’s been used to aid digestion and fight inflammation in Eastern medicine for centuries, there are now several studies showing that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, may help prevent type 2 diabetes and decrease insulin resistance.
- Garlic: Animal studies have found that the antioxidants in garlic may improve insulin sensitivity, and garlic is also great for improved heart health.
- Cinnamon: This wonderfully aromatic spice has been shown to help improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar. Most studies on the spice require subjects to consume an abnormal amount, but sprinkling it in when you can may still be helpful—and it will make your food smell delicious!
7. Don’t Neglect Your Cardio
You knew this was going to be on the list, right? There’s just no getting around it: exercise is extremely effective in improving insulin sensitivity. Exercise promotes a response that gets sugar from your blood to your working muscles and immediately increases insulin sensitivity. It’s so effective that you should be on the lookout for hypos while exercising if you have diabetes. But the benefits are definitely worth it: one study found that even after a single session of moderate cardiovascular exercise (30 to 120 minutes) insulin sensitivity was improved for 12 to 48 hours afterward.